The Italian Almanac

soccer hooligan

Italian News - August 4

The Italian government continued its clampdown on soccer hooliganism Wednesday with a new decree that turns up the heat on troublemakers. The law stiffens punishments for those found guilty of crowd trouble. People who throw objects onto the pitch or take part in pitch invasions that cause a game to be delayed or suspended may now find themselves spending as much as four and a half years behind bars. Police powers to stop fans responsible for crowd trouble in the past going to football matches have been beefed up.

The decree also bolsters the role of club stewards, which the authorities are trying to encourage at Italy's stadiums, so that fans police themselves more. This is a bid to adopt the model that curbed hooliganism in England in the 1980s. While on duty at the ground, Italian stewards will enjoy the status of 'public officials'. This means an act of violence against them will be treated as if it had been carried out against a police officer or a fire-fighter, for example. "I'm convinced that the introduction of the new measures will be useful and effective so that soccer matches can take place in a civilized climate," said Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) Chief Franco Carraro.

The legislation was approved by the cabinet only two months after it passed another hooliganism package. This increased the use of video surveillance inside grounds and introduced numbered tickets with the buyers' name on to make it easier to detect hooligans. The earlier package also strengthened the police's powers to suspend games if there is a threat to public order.

The new rules come after a wretched season, in which three Serie A clubs, AS Roma, Lazio and Inter, were handed European competition stadium bans because of the conduct of their supporters. The Interior Ministry and the FIGC agreed to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards hooliganism in April after crowd trouble forced refs to halt the Champions League quarter-final Derby between Inter Milan and AC Milan.